COQUITLAM: Stewart back in, Hodge and O’Neill newbies on council
Richard Stewart was back in the Coquitlam mayor’s chair for the regular council meeting on Monday, a position he’ll be in for the next three years after a convincing win last Saturday over challenger Barrie Lynch.
Stewart and the current council, including Coun. Lynch, spent the final meeting of their term tying up last-minute business — approving committee minutes and land-use applications — before the new council is sworn in Dec. 5.
But Stewart also acknowledged the efforts of two incumbents who soon won’t be around the table: Lynch, a three-term councillor who campaigned against Stewart, and Doug Macdonell, a two-term councillor and the city’s recreation committee chair.
As well, Stewart recognized the two councillors-elect, who were in the audience and will be taking Lynch and Macdonell’s seats: Craig Hodge, a retired Tri-City News photographer who is the highest vote-getter for a first-time candidate in Coquitlam’s history; and Terry O’Neill, a former Tri-City News Face to Face columnist.
Both men knocked on thousands of doors for weeks during the race — hearing directly from residents angry about rising property taxes and costs at city hall — in order to gain a council job.
Last Saturday, CUPE-endorsed Hodge, a past president of the Tri-Cities’ Chamber of Commerce, placed 211 votes shy of the top spot that was won by Coun. Selina Robinson with 9,635 votes. Also returning to council are incumbents Brent Asmundson, Neal Nicholson, Mae Reid, Linda Reimer and Lou Sekora.
Macdonell, who collected 102 fewer votes than Asmundson, who placed eighth, did not attend Monday’s city council meeting. Contacted Monday morning, Macdonell said he was disappointed with the results.
“There are some things that I wanted to see move forward in the city for the next three years and I hope these will get off the table,” he said, referring to the city’s bid for the 2016 BC Summer Games and the events tourism strategy.
Macdonell said he won’t seek political office again. “I’ve got some opportunities to think about now.”
He was one of six candidates Stewart selected for his council team (the others were Asmundson, Hodge, Reid, Reimer and Araz Rismani); on the other mayoral side, CUPE-backed Lynch had incumbents Nicholson, Robinson and Sekora, and challengers Randy Delmonico, Fred Soofi and Vincent Wu.
NEGATIVES VERSUS POSITIVES, SAYS LYNCH
Of the 26 polling stations, Lynch won eight (but not his home base of Nestor) and lost by 2,459 votes. After Saturday’s count, he said the results weren’t “what I was hoping for. There were a bunch of things happening behind the scenes that put a negative image on me and I worked hard to dispute that.”
He pointed to news articles reporting on Stewart’s car accident two weeks ago while campaigning in the Austin Heights neighbourhood as damaging to his campaign and “a positive thing” for his opponent.
Asked if he’ll run for nomination in next spring’s provincial by-election to replace BC Liberal MLA Iain Black, who quit to take a job with the Vancouver Board of Trade, Lynch said he is unsure.
As for the 21% turnout for the election — the same percentage as in the 2008 general election — Stewart vowed to get young people more involved in civic politics by creating a youth city council.
Meanwhile, council will get an overview of 2012 operating and capital budgets on Nov. 29 and is expected to adopt the five-year financial plan on March 5, 2012.
A bullet [•] denotes incumbent):
• Richard Stewart — 10,050
Barrie Lynch — 7,591
• Selina Robinson — 9,635
Craig Hodge — 9,424
• Linda Reimer — 9.093
• Lou Sekora — 8,519
• Neal Nicholson — 7,885
• Mae Reid — 7,784
Terry O’Neill — 7,566
• Brent Asmundson — 7,541
Doug Macdonell — 7,439
Fred Soofi — 7,310
Randy Delmonico — 6,961
Vincent Wu — 6,271
Andy Shen — 4,071
Araz Rismani — 3,981
Massimo Mandarino — 3,641
Andy Wickey — 3,079